UCLA Offensive Preview

UCLA's offense has numerous dimensions that Arizona will have to contain on Saturday. Read on to see what those are, the keys to stopping it, and more.

UCLA's offense may be different than last season with the loss of running back Johnathan Franklin, but it still have the potential to be very dangerous.

The success of UCLA's offense revolves around Brett Hundley, who is currently having an inconsistent season. Hundley has all the tools you would want in a quarterback and with a 6-foot-3, 222-pound frame can still get out and run.

Hundley has completed 68 percent of his passes for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, which are solid numbers. The issue for him this year has been the interceptions, as he has eight of them. Against the better defenses he has faced in Stanford and Oregon, Hundley has thrown four of his picks.

He tends to get rattled sometimes and push a bit too much, but he is certainly a capable quarterback and one of the best in the conference. What makes Hundley more dangerous is his ability to run, as he averages about 53 yards per game. He has at least ten running attempts in five games this season and has added six touchdowns on the ground.

Speaking of UCLA's run game, 5-foot-9, 194-pound junior Jordon James was originally thought to have been a go for Arizona, but UCLA announced on Thursday that he will not be playing.

Freshman Paul Perkins will likely get the start, but his number of carries is hard to predict considering he only got four against Colorado. Perkins took over in James' absence and showed glimpses more than consistency. He did have 92 yards against Utah and 93 against Oregon, but only had a combined 22 carries for 49 yards against California, Stanford, and Colorado.

It would not be a surprise to see Damien Thigpen get more carries than Perkins this week. He is starting to get back into the swing of things and had four carries last game for a successful 38 yards and a score against Colorado.

Hundley has three receivers that he uses the most with familiar name Devin Fuller being the leader. Fuller was recruited by Arizona as a quarterback and although UCLA said he would have a chance to win the same position there, he was moved to wide receiver almost right away.

The move has been relatively successful for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound sophomore, who has 34 catches for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Although his yards per catch average may not seem that high, he does have the ability to catch the deep ball and is a threat to do so on Saturday.

Fuller may be the most naturally talented receiver on UCLA, but senior Shaquelle Evans may be the best. He currently has 30 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns and is usually good for three or four catches a night.

Sophomore Jordan Payton is also likely to contribute on Saturday, as he has 24 grabs for 314 yards and a touchdown on the season. Payton has been pretty consistent in what he is able to do, but he has been bottled up a bit in his past three games.

The Bruins will also get the ball to Perkins and James out of the backfield in addition to Thomas Duarte, but the three receivers listed are the most likely to be a threat on Saturday.

UCLA's offense is likely only going to be as successful as the offensive line allows it to be and with three true freshmen starting, the line has fought through some inconsistency. Make no mistake about it, the talent is there. However, having three freshmen is naturally going to bring along some difficulty.

At left guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo is UCLA's best lineman. He has started 35 games, was 1st team All-Pac-12 last season and is simply one of the best linemen in the country, which has helped make the others' transition smoother.

Center Jake Brendel is also a solid lineman, although he has had some trouble with his snaps this season and that could be something to keep an eye on as Saturday comes.

Guard Alex Redmond and tackle Caleb Benenoch became the first pair of true freshmen to ever start together when they did so against Cal. Then Scott Quessenberry was thrown in the mix at left guard to give the Bruins its trio of true freshmen on the line.

Players to Watch:

#18, WR Thomas Duarte: There is a chance that Duarte does not do much on Saturday and it is probably more likely than not. However, he is a big body that is similar to the players that have hurt Arizona up the middle in the past. It would not be a surprise to see UCLA get him more involved in the game plan, so he is a guy to keep an eye on.

#9, WR Jordan Payton: Fuller and Evans deserve plenty of attention, but if the opponent gives them too much, that is where Payton usually comes in. He has plenty of talent and is capable of hurting Arizona despite only scoring once this season.

#17, QB Brett Hundley: This goes without saying, but it is hard to believe the Bruins will have a good game if Hundley struggles. He has to be sharp, especially considering that it is a road contest and his decision-making will go a long way in determining Arizona's fate on Saturday.

#25, RB Damien Thigpen: With James being out and Perkins not playing that well, Thigpen should get more carries. It is hard to predict what kind of impact he will have, but the potential is definitely there..

Keys to the Game:

Get up early: We said it earlier, but Hundley tends to push things. If Arizona can get an early lead, it likely makes Hundley less dangerous and puts him in a position that UCLA does not want to let him be in. Not to mention the fact that the Bruins just don't give up halftime leads.

Make UCLA one-dimensional: The ideal situation for Arizona would be to shut the run down and make UCLA as predictable as possible. That is much easier said than done, but it has to be a goal of Arizona's.

Do not extend drives: Penalties hurt more against good teams and that is exactly what UCLA is. Extending drives with penalties or defensive breakdowns would be a tough thing for Arizona's defense to overcome.

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